Dr. Todd Lawrence to Speak on 'contested meaning' of Flight 93 National Memorial

Dr. Todd Lawrence, English Department, will give a presentation on “Telling All Our Stories: Institutionalization, Vernacular Expression and Contested Meaning at the Flight 93 National Memorial” Thursday, April 19.

Dr. Todd Lawrence

Dr. Todd Lawrence

Free and open to the public, the event will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts auditorium, Room 126.

It’s been just over 10 years since United Flight 93 crashed into a small stand of trees in the countryside of southwestern Pennsylvania, killing 40 passengers and crew along with the four hijackers. In the hours immediately following the crash, people arrived at the site placing notes, signs and personal objects as close as they could get, creating a spontaneous shrine recognizing the dead.

In the intervening years, that spontaneous shrine has become a permanent, institutionalized memorial built of concrete and marble. This presentation will examine the transformation of the memorial from a makeshift assemblage of left objects to a carefully planned, institutionalized memorial overseen by the National Parks Service.

The presentation will focus on the ways individual expression is being managed at the new memorial as well as how it has become a battleground site marking a vital moment in the current narrative of the American War on Terror.

Ultimately this presentation will argue that the Flight 93 National Memorial, despite being overshadowed by the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero, is actually the more important memorial as it constructs and animates the sole moment of resistance in a mythic narrative of the attacks on Sept. 11.

Lawrence’s presentation is sponsored by American Culture and Difference.